All snooker gamers should get used to a kick within the enamel occasionally – in a proverbial sense. However for Joe O’Connor that additionally applies actually as, away from the baize, he practises combined martial arts a number of occasions per week.
World quantity 62 O’Connor is a agency believer that bodily health helps a wholesome thoughts. He took up kick-boxing on the age of 15 and later moved on to MMA, which additionally consists of jujitsu, wrestling and boxing.
“I adore it all,” smiles the 25-year-old from Leicester. “The sparring just isn’t too powerful, we take it simple as a result of I wouldn’t wish to get injured. It nonetheless feels good if you catch somebody, however you may’t dwell on it since you may get it again your self.
“I discover it helps on the psychological aspect as a result of it fully takes my thoughts away from snooker. It’s like urgent a reset button – then after I come again to snooker I’m contemporary. I don’t wish to be pondering of snooker 24 hours day.”
O’Connor is pure all-round sportsman – he was a proficient footballer in his early teenagers, whereas on the junior pool circuit he received a bunch of titles. He didn’t swap to snooker till the age of 17, and inside a number of years he was English Newbie champion and had earned a spot on the professional tour.
Throughout his debut season, O’Connor reached the semi-finals of the 2019 Welsh Open, beat John Higgins twice and was named Rookie of the Yr. Since then his progress has been regular fairly than spectacular, however he’s optimistic about his growth.
“Final season was my finest by way of consistency,” mentioned O’Connor. “Hopefully I can hold enhancing as a participant and push on. As I used to be a late began in snooker I could also be behind different gamers by way of expertise, however that can include time.”
O’Connor might barely have a greater pool of follow companions to study from. He shares a unit with Tom Ford in Leicester, and recurrently travels across the Midlands snooker hot-bed to play the likes of Mark Selby, Louis Heathcote, Michael Holt, Chris Wakelin and David Gilbert.
“It’s nice practising with Tom as a result of he has a lot pure expertise,” mentioned O’Connor. “If I’ve been taking part in alone for a few weeks over the summer time, he’ll are available having not picked his cue up for ages and he’s nonetheless higher than me. I performed him within the quarter-finals of the German Masters final season, he beat me 5-1 and taught me a lesson. I don’t assume he has proven everybody how good he might be but. I don’t get the possibility to play Mark Selby typically, however after I do I take as a lot as I can from it.
“I’m actually trying ahead to the brand new season. My long run ambition is to get to primary on the planet, however that may solely occur by attempting my finest on one shot at a time.”